Politicians have united to keep a newspaper printing in CQ
OUR local political leaders have found rare common ground in their desire to keep Central Queensland's printing presses ticking over, churning out a locally produced newspaper for this vast region.
Economic constraints forced News Corp's Thursday decision to stop printing CQ's newspapers and shift them to digital including The Morning Bulletin, Gladstone Observer, Daily Mercury, Central Queensland News while discontinuing the Capricorn Coast Mirror and Central Telegraph.
The loss of newspapers in Central Queensland has united politicians across the political divide to ensure a print connection to the news remains - especially for the region's older residents who are often incapable of accessing digital news.
Rockhampton Regional mayor Margaret Strelow implored News Corp to explore the option of producing a CQ based newspaper taking advantage of the region's existing talent and infrastructure.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has received widespread support for her Save Regional Newspapers petition which she intended to print and distribute this week, allowing those without internet to sign.
Labor's local MP's for Keppel, Brittany Lauga and Rockhampton, Barry O'Rourke are both supportive of Ms Landry's petition and are anxious to "strike while the iron is hot" to develop a solution to save a CQ-based newspaper.
"While the Morning Bulletin will continue in a digital form, it just won't be the same," Ms Lauga said.
"I am absolutely committed to working with our local journalists, with News Corp and with local leaders to come up with a solution to be able to ensure that print media in Central Queensland can continue to thrive."
"I'll be writing to News Corp with respect to their announcement as I think it is absolutely unfair that the whole Central Queensland region has missed out on being able to continue a print newspaper when other regions like Townsville have been given the ability to keep their newspaper being printed."
She said there was a lot of merit for producing a CQ based newspaper rather than having "print news dictated to us by Brisbane-based journalists".
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke described to decision to cease CQ's newspapers as being "devastating for our community".
"Not only are there the direct job losses and flow-on effects for newsagents and others," Mr O'Rourke said.
"I'm also really worried about the impact this will have on those residents that aren't digitally savvy, especially some of our older generation. There simply won't be a way for them to read properly sourced local news after this.
"I will happily sign the petition and urge others to do so."
If News Corp continued down this path, Mr O'Rourke said it had to be time for the federal government to step in with support for regional news.
"Perhaps even by funding local ABC stations to produce regular newsletters for the community," he said.
Livingstone Shire mayor Andy Ireland said local newspapers were extremely important for smaller communities, providing a real and strong connection to the local community.
"There are also a lot of people within the community who aren't digitally aware and won't be able to, or will have difficulty with, accessing the news online," Cr Ireland said.
While CQ-based Senator Matt Canavan understood it was a tough environment for the media to operate, he supported Ms Landry's petition.
"I'd ask that News Corp reconsider. I'd ask them had they considered other options including selling it and management buying it or there might be some other people who want to take it over," he said.
"If there's someone else that can come up with an alternative, great, we'd love to see it."
Ms Landry's online petition can be signed here: mailchi.mp/michellelandry/news-corp-petition